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There are a few things that are synonymous with the Chinese Spring Festival – red couplets hanging on doors, dumplings boiling in a pot, firecrackers going off night and day, and families plopping down in front of the TV for 4+ hours. The CCTV New Year’s Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会 – zhōng guó zhōng yāng diàn shì tái chūn jié lián huān wǎn huì), or “Chun Wan” (春晚 – chūn wǎn) for short, is the most watched television show on the planet. Last year, over 750 million people tuned in to watch – in China alone. To put it into perspective, that’s six times the amount of Americans who watched the Super Bowl. The program is broadcast every year on the Lunar New Year’s Eve, and it is a variety show consisting of music, dance, comedy, drama, and more. It has gone on every year since 1983, with four prominent hosts from CCTV who introduce the various acts and even perform in some of the sketches. Here’s what you can expect to see in any given year:
As the show goes on, viewers can call a hotline to cast their vote for their favorite sketch from the show. The top acts based on vote tallies then perform on the CCTV Lantern Gala, which airs on the Lantern Festival (元宵节 – yuán xiāo jié). The vast popularity of the show mixed with the rising importance of social media in China has led to a lot of widespread criticism among Chinese netizens in recent years. Many were disappointed in the line-up for this year’s show, and you can read more about that in this well-written article. Despite all of the negative comments online, the show still had millions upon millions of viewers this year, and it seems as if this is one Spring Festival tradition that will be around for a long time.
If you’ve got an extra four hours or so of free time, you can check out the entire show, which has even been posted to YouTube: